How to Succeed as a Commuter Student: 18 Proven Tips

Throughout university, commuting has been both a productive and frustrating experience for me.

I studied in downtown Toronto while living with my parents in the suburbs about 15-20 miles away. Because of this, I commuted about 3 hours a day for 5 years, and I did it with every form of transportation you can imagine: car, train, bus, subway, hands and knees (okay, that last one might be an exaggeration).

My worst commute horror story happened on the day of my last exam of university, of all times:

  • The subway line lost power because of a notorious Toronto snowstorm
  • I had to run go back to my car (which I had already paid the $6 parking for) and drive 1.5 hours to get to school
  • I could only take slow, inside roads and not the highway because of the rush hour standstill
  • A huge block of snow fell on my windshield as I was driving and bent my wiper out (so I had to get out in the middle of the road at a stoplight to fix it)
  • I had to pay another $25 to park in downtown Toronto where my school was
  • I was 1 hour late to a 2-hour exam that I absolutely had to pass to graduate

You’ll have to read till the end to know the ending of this story, but if this makes commuting sound like a nightmare, let me set the record straight: it usually isn’t.
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A Beginner’s Guide to Getting Along With Your Roommate

Unless you attended Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, or shared a room with a sibling growing up, college is probably the first time you’ve ever had a roommate. Whether you’re literally sharing a bedroom with another person, or just sharing an apartment, living with a roommate is a whole new world compared to living with your parents.

And, really, it’s not something anyone ever talks about until you get to college. Sure, there’s the odd glimpse in college movies or maybe a weird story from one of your parents, but nothing can truly prepare you for the experience of coexisting in close quarters with someone who’s quite possibly a complete stranger. Read More…

How to Make Friends in College: A Comprehensive Guide

Do you remember the first friend you made?

The first person I consciously remember calling my “friend” (and later, “best friend”) was someone I met in preschool. I was probably four years old. We had similar interests, and complementary personalities (he was the big picture idea guy, I was the detail-oriented do-er).

As I’ve continued through life, my friendships have shifted. I’ve made new friends along the way, deepened my relationship with existing friends, and fallen out of touch with others. When you look at it this way, it seems like friendship is something that just “happens.” You can’t control it, it would seem, and maybe it’s better not to. After all, you can’t force friendship.

Yet, what I’ve come to realize in the past couple years is that while you can’t force or manufacture friendship, you can seek and cultivate it. It isn’t completely out of your control. In fact, since it’s such an important part of living a happy life, it’s something that you put on autopilot at your peril. Read More…

Why Your College Major Choice Isn’t as Important as You Think

People sometimes ask me, “If you could go back, would you have picked a different college major?”

I used to have a really hard time answering this question.

You see, my college degree is completely unrelated to what I’m doing today. So sometimes I’d catch myself thinking, “maybe I should have picked a different major.”

The only problem is I’m not sure what I would’ve picked instead. But I don’t waste any time thinking about it anymore… Now whenever someone asks me this question, my answer is always no. Read More…

10 Myths About Your First Year of College

If you’re a college student in the U.S., you’ll likely start classes in a week or so (if you haven’t already). For many of you, this will be your first semester of college.

Since I’m about to start my senior year, I’ve been reflecting on all the things I’ve done and learned over the past three years. It’s hard to believe it’s gone so fast.

As I reflect, I realize that much of college was very different from what I had imagined and what other people had told me.

Nowhere was this more true than my first year of college.

There are a lot of myths floating around out there about your freshman year. Some of them contain truth, but many of them unnecessarily fill first year students with dread. Which sucks, because you’ve got enough to think about as it is.

To help you start your semester a little more blissfully, today’s post will debunk ten common myths about your first year of college. Read More…

Achievement Addiction: How to Separate Yourself from Your Accomplishments

I have a problem that I’ve struggle with for years: I often feel that I’m only as good as what I accomplish.

Essentially, my “worth” as a person is tied up with what I do. What I produce. How many times I win.

“You’re only as good as your last gig, and your last gig sucked.” – Guitar Hero III loading screen message

I don’t know of an existing term for this issue, so I’ve coined my own: achievement addiction. I know I’m not alone in battling achievement addiction; lots of other people deal with it, and I suspect you might be one of them.

Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with being motivated and driven. It’s completely ok to want to do lots of awesome things – normally, it’s an advantage. However, this ambition becomes a problem when we can’t separate ourselves from what we do. When we tie up our personal worth with external accomplishments, we’ll always end up dissatisfied.

In today’s post, I’m going to explore the root of this problem, as well as what you can do to break free of the cycle of achievement addiction.

If you’re a recovering achievement addict (or feel like you’re in danger of becoming one), then this post is for you. And don’t worry: the road to recovery has far fewer than twelve steps. 🙂 Read More…

Why You Should Keep a Journal in College (and Beyond)

My first experience with journaling was in first grade.

Our teacher made us keep a journal each day as a way to practice our writing skills. Not that we understood it that way at the time–it was just another assignment that no one particularly wanted to do. I’ve no idea if that journal survived through all these years–I imagine it’s probably buried in some box at my parents’ house.

Regardless, that was my first introduction to journaling, and it was hardly an inspiring one. I didn’t pick up the habit again until a few months ago, when I realized that if I was going to study abroad, I ought to do something to document all my new experiences. And so I picked up a blank, orange journal, and I began filling it up.

With a few exceptions, I’ve written a daily entry for the past three months, and I can’t recommend the habit enough.

In today’s post, I’ll share the benefits of keeping a journal, how to overcome your reservations about keeping one, and how to make journaling into a habit.

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How (and Why) to Define Your Values

Ever get the feeling that you’re just going through the motions of life without really living?

I know I have. A couple months ago, I reached a point where I felt that while I was having success in my academic pursuits and online business endeavors, I still felt…empty.

“Why does any of this even matter?” I wondered. “Why am I struggling toward these temporary goals that I probably won’t even remember five, ten, fifteen years from now?”

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